Scott E. Kanoski

Assistant Professor

Scott E. Kanoski

Research Topics

  • Food intake and body weight regulation
  • Learning and memory
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Neuroanatomy and circuits
  • Cognitive Impairment / Alzheimer's

Research Images

Confocal image of tri-label immunohistochemistry at the ventricular ependyma
Confocal image of tri-label immunohistochemistry at the ventricular ependyma
Darkfield image of GLP-1 immunoreactivity at the interventricular foramen
Darkfield image of GLP-1 immunoreactivity at the interventricular foramen
Iontophoretic dual neural tracer injection site: medial nucleus tractus solitarius
Iontophoretic dual neural tracer injection site: medial nucleus tractus solitarius
Working for Palatable Food - Image by Ted Hsu
Working for Palatable Food - Image by Ted Hsu

Research Overview

The prevalence of obesity has exploded over the past 30 years. The neurobiological systems that underlie the excessive feeding behavior contributing to obesity onset remain poorly understood. Our goal is to explore the neural control of "higher-order" aspects of feeding behavior, including decisions about whether to eat or not to eat, what to consume, and how much of it to consume.

These decisions are heavily influenced by neuroendocrine signals produced in the peripheral organs or in the brain (e.g., leptin, GLP-1, ghrelin, orexin) that act on receptors expressed in the brain's cognitive and reward circuitry. At the center of our research focus is the hippocampus; a region traditionally linked with the control of learning and memory. We've recently shown that the hippocampus regulates higher-order aspects of feeding behavior by detecting and utilizing circulating hormonal signals. Our research approach utilizes neuropharmacological, neuroanatomical, genetic, surgical, behavioral, and other research strategies to explore how neuroendocrine systems act in the hippocampus and other brain areas to increase (or decrease) food-motivated behavior. Our goal is to provide insight into the biology and psychology underlying the excessive food intake that is driving up obesity rates in Western cultures.

A second and related focus of our lab is to study how the brain is negatively impacted by dietary and metabolic factors. Saturated fatty acid and refined carbohydrate (i.e., sugar) consumption not only contributes to obesity development, but also produces deficits in learning and memory capabilities and can even increase the risk for developing Alzheimer's pathology. We are currently examining the specific causal dietary factors and critical developmental periods related to diet-induced hippocampal dysfunction. Our work is revealing underlying neurobiological mechanisms (e.g., blood-brain barrier disruption, neuroinflammation) that link Western diet intake to cognitive impairment.

Contact Information

Mailing Address 3616 Trousdale Parkway, AHF-252
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0372
Office Location SHS 165
Office Phone (213) 821-5762
Lab Location SHS 166 & RRI B15
Lab Phone
Office Location SHS 165



  • B.S. Psychology (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000)
  • M.S. Psychology (Purdue University, 2006)
  • Ph.D. Psychology / Behavioral Neuroscience (Purdue University, 2009)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow (University of Pennsylvania, 2009-2012)

Selected Publications

View a complete PubMed search
  • A hippocampus to prefrontal cortex neural pathway inhibits food motivation through glucagon-like peptide-1 signaling.

    Molecular Psychiatry. 2017; In Press.

    Hsu TM, Noble EE, Liu CM, Cortella AM, Konanur VR, Suarez AN, Reiner DJ, Hahn JD, Hayes MR, Kanoski SE

  • Early life sugar consumption affects the microbiome in rodents independent of obesity.

    Journal of Nutrition. 2017; 147(1): 20-28

    Noble EE, Hsu TM, Jones R, Fodor A, Goran MI, Kanoski SE

    PubMed Link
  • Hippocampus ghrelin signaling mediates appetite through lateral hypothalamic orexin pathways.

    eLife. 2015; 14(4)

    Hsu TM, Hahn JD, Konanur VR, Noble EE, Suarez AN, Thai J, Nakamoto EN, Kanoski SE

    PubMed Link
  • Gut to brain dysbiosis: mechanisms linking Western Diet consumption, the microbiota, and cognitive impairment.

    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2017; 11(9): 1-10

    Noble EE, Hsu TM, Kanoski SE

    PubMed Link
  • Hippocampus contributions to food intake control: mnemonic, neuroanatomical, and endocrine mechanisms.

    Biological Psychiatry. 2017; In Press.

    Kanoski SE, Grill HJ

    PubMed Link
  • GLP-1 and weight loss: unraveling the diverse neural circuitry.

    American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2016; 310(10): R885-95.

    Kanoski SE, Hayes MR, Skibicka KP

    PubMed Link
  • Hippocampal GLP-1 receptors influence food intake, meal size, and effort-based responding for food through volume transmission.

    Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015; 40(2):327-37

    Hsu TM, Hahn JD, Konanur VR, Lam A, Kanoski SE

    PubMed Link
  • Effects of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup on spatial memory function and hippocampal neuroinflammation in adolescent rats.

    Hippocampus. 2015; 25(2): 227-39

    Hsu TM, Konanur VR, Taing L, Usui R, Kayser BD, Goran MI, Kanoski SE

    PubMed Link
  • Blood-brain barrier disruption: mechanistic links between Western diet consumption and dementia.

    Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2014; 6:88.

    Hsu TM, Kanoski SE

    PubMed Link
  • Ghrelin signaling in the ventral hippocampus stimulates learned and motivational aspects of feeding via PI3K-Akt signaling.

    Biological Psychiatry. 2013; 73(9):915-23

    Kanoski SE, Fortin SM, Ricks KM, Grill HJ

    PubMed Link